The Green Living Guy

So I was remembering back in 2006, former Governor George Pataki’s budget. It was going to promote high-tech projects and consumer tax breaks for saving on energy.

In addition, this was meaning tens of millions of dollars in new research funding.  Tax credits and other incentives could flow into Capital Region businesses under the proposed budget Gov. George Pataki unveiled Tuesday.  Up to $50 million over five years for advanced “clean coal” power plants could boost research in technology being conducted at General Electric’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna.

Good luck everyone and may this help green living in our economy.  However, clean coal is not as green as other technologies.

Coal power plants emissions

Source: Albany Times Union

But let’s really look at this. Because then the NYT reported on clean coal saying even President Trump often talks about “clean coal” in his speeches. Yet it is not always clear what he means by the term. Consider his comments at a rally in Phoenix.

“We’ve ended the war on beautiful, clean coal,” Mr. Trump said. “And it’s just been announced that a second brand-new coal mine where they’re going to take out clean coal — meaning they’re taking out coal, they’re going to clean it — is opening in the state of Pennsylvania.”

So experts say that carbon capture could proves useful. Especially for tackling climate change emissions. I mean not just from coal plants, but from steel and cement plants as well. Because they also note that companies have little incentive to install the necessary scrubbers and pipelines. Especially in the absence of stricter climate regulations or a price on carbon.  These are two policies Mr. Trump has fiercely opposed.

In addition, President Trump’s budget for 2018 also proposed cutting by 85 percent funding for the Office of Fossil Energy. That’s the federal agency that is currently researching techniques to reduce pollution from coal.
Clean coal is no such thing

Now according to InsideEnergy on does it work? Well so far, not well. Clean coal technology has not been widely deployed most importantly at a large scale in the U.S.  Also many clean coal projects have consequently ended in failure. There are also most noteworthy ongoing debates about whether the technology actually reduce overall emissions. Because in most cases or times they don’t.

That said, there are a handful of projects coming online. Some say that these look to be technologically successful. Although it will also be financially viable.

So many experts continue to say that ‘clean coal’ is a critical part of fighting climate change.

Therefore, a brief history of some of the most prominent CCUS projects in North America:

  1. Boundary Dam Carbon Capture Project: This coal-fired generating unit in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is one of just two operating power plants in North America that use CCUS. The power plant was also rebuilt to incorporate carbon capture technology. It went online in 2014. After cost overruns and delays, SaskPower (the company behind the project) says its total cost was around $1.467 billion (CAD).  Finally, that the Canadian government contributed $240 million (CAD) of that total cost.
  2. Kemper County Energy Facility:  So this one is coal gasification combined with carbon capture and storage. It will be used to control emissions at this plant. That which is currently under construction in Mississippi. The project has been plagued by cost overruns running into the billions of dollars. It’s currently years behind schedule. The New York Times investigated the plant’s many failings in a July 2016 piece.
  3. Future gen: This project, set to test advanced CO2 capture and storage technologies in Morgan County, Illinois. It was shut down in 2015 after the Department of Energy pulled most of its funding. The federal government had committed $1 billion in stimulus dollars in 2010. So with that funding now off the table, an Energy Department spokesperson would say only that this action was taken “in order to best protect taxpayer interests.”
  4. Texas Clean Energy Project: This once-promising project has been shelved after the Department of Energy cut funding for it. The DOE made the final decision to pull the plug on the project in August 2016. All after it failed to meet various milestones. The plant would gasify coal before burning it. Then it would use the captured carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery. Finally, the total project cost is anticipated at close to $4 billion.

Coal power is bad for breathingCoal power

Yet as Popular Science reported it doesn’t. They add:

But while most of us know the risks of mercury, few of us understand how mercury wound up in our fish in the first place. The short answer? We put it there. Humans release mercury into the environment. All through industrial processes, like when we convert crude oil into vinyl. Or when we mine for gold. But the largest source of mercury—more than 50 percent—comes from coal fired plants. So continuing to burn it is just not a great idea.

And even more pollutants are released when we burn coal. That’s without even getting into the pollution from getting it. I mean the emissions associated with extracting coal from the ground. As well as disposing of coal ash people!!
Yet you can thank coal for the Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) in acid rain, which destroys forests. Nitric Oxide (NO) and Nitrous Dioxide (NO2), which together are known as NOx and serve as the driving force behind smog, stem from coal fires as well

Finally they note:

But before the EPA had even finished writing the Clean Power Plan, current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (who was then the Attorney General of Oklahoma) sued to halt its development. The administrator, who has significant ties to the fossil fuel industry. One that stands to benefit the most from the Clean Power Plan’s repeal. He argued that the EPA didn’t have the right to regulate power plant emissions under the clean air act after all. The Supreme Court disagreed.

Power Plants Start Cutting Your Emissions!

The plan sets targets for states to reduce the amount of carbon released by their power plants to 32 percent. All below 2005 levels by 2030. However it doesn’t tell them how to do it. States can choose more interestingly to invest heavily in renewables; or invest in natural gas. Still, when the EPA introduced its Clean Power Plan, there are some who saw it as an attack on the coal industry. And well that’s not hard to understand: Even though coal only made up 34 percent of electrical energy mix (a mix that increasingly includes wind and solar) as of 2015; it was responsible for 70 percent of power plant emissions. The fastest way for a state to lower its emissions is to convert its coal powered plants to natural gas as the article says. Also you can really do large scale wind , solar and with energy storage.

This is something many municipalities are already doing because fracking natural gas is cheaper than goal. It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t the only regulation that the Pruitt led EPA has chosen to roll back – they’ve pushed back against new rules limiting the amount of heavy metals like mercury would end up in our waterways.

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